Features of the VS-17 Marking Panel

The VS-17 Marking Panel measures 18 x 11″ VS-17 and is designed to aid troops in marking their location and increase visibility from the friendly troops.The panel is double-sided with one side being hi-vis orange and the other being hi-vis yellow which makes it perfect for signaling aircraft in a multitude of situations to include CAS or CASEVAC. The panel includes three different options for ensuring that the panel stays in place whether you are on the go, or facing inclement weather conditions.  Four removable bungee tie downs and four fastex buckles allow the panel to be securely tied or clipped onto a pack or any other item.  In addition, four rare earth magnets allow the panel to be attached directly to a vehicle or metal platform.  The magnets can sustain winds up to 55mph allowing the panel to adhere to a vehicle while in motion. For even more versatility, we have screen printed a 6 x 11″ American Flag to the center for quick recognition, while the reverse side has a 4 x 2″ Velcro patch panel that can be used for emplacement of IR patches.

Features:

  • Made in the USA (Berry Compliant)
  • 18 x 11″ hi-vis orange and yellow panels
  • 6 x 11″ silk screened American Flag
  • Earth Magnets for adhesion to metal surfaces
  • Four removable bungee ties
  • Included stuff sack

 

 

The VS-17 Marking Panel is currently available for government purchases only. If you are interested in purchasing this item for your unit, please email govsales@refactortactical.com to receive an order quote.

Rifle Drill: The Tabata

This rifle drill is named in honor of Sergeant Major Ernest “Ernie” K Tabata.  Ernie was a roll model, a war hero and a pathfinder for the Special Forces Regiment.  You can read more about Ernie below.

The Tabata Rifle Drill is designed to push your target transitions.  This drill is best performed on our Rifle IQ Target.

Setup:

The shooter stands at the 10 yard line, facing down range, rifle at either 10 gun or low ready.  The shooter should have one round in the chamber with 5 rounds in the magazine loaded in the weapon.  The shooter should have a second magazine of 6+ rounds prepped for a reload.

Drill:

At the buzzer the shooter will fire 1 round to the Yellow 1 Triangle, 1 round to the Blue 1 Square, 1 round to the Green 2 Circle, 1 round to the Blue 2 Triangle, 1 round to the Yellow B Triangle, 1 round to the Green A Circle.  The shooter then conducts a reload and fires 1 round to the Green A Circle, 1 round to the Yellow B Triangle, 1 round to the Blue 2 Triangle, 1 round to the Green 2 Circle, 1 round to the Blue 1 Square, 1 round to the Yellow 1 Triangle.

In other words, the shooter will fire 1 round to each of the shapes directly surrounding the center shape going counter-clockwise, then reload, then shoot all the same shapes going clockwise.  See target above for reference.

For more drills, check out our shooting drills page.

Scoring:

Your score is your total time.  Dock 1.5 seconds for each round that is missed.

Change it up:

You can change this drill by going closer or further away from the target.  In addition try completing the drill by starting at the 15 yard line and moving to the 5 yard line while you shoot.

SGM Ernest K. Tabata

SGM Ernest K. Tabata

Sergeant Major Ernest “Ernie” Tabata will forever remain one of the most influential instructors I ever had.  I still remember him standing there, at the age of 69, in a real-tree body suite getting ready for a jump while I was going through the Special Forces Qualification Course.  He even made us do pushups when we didn’t calculate our time fuze properly except he would get down and do the pushups with us, while wearing body armor.  Ernie was an instructor at the 18C, Special Forces Engineer Sergeant, MOS course and remained on jump status into his 70s.  While there Ernie influenced hundreds, if not thousands, of future Green Berets.  He groomed young soldiers by leading from the front and teaching them the ways of the regiment.  Please take the time to read about this incredible Special Forces soldier.

From USASOC

Sergeant Major Ernest K. Tabata began his military career in June 1946 as a volunteer in the Hawaiian Territorial Guard. Two years later he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and completed the advanced combat engineer school at Fort Belvoir, Va. On June 1950, SGM Tabata found himself among the first American soldiers sent to South Korea to repel the invasion by the North. He was assigned to the 14th Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Following Korea, SGM Tabata returned to Hawaii and received an honorable discharge in September 1952. He re-enlisted in the Army in January 1955. SGM Tabata served the next six years as a paratrooper in the 82nd and 11th Airborne Divisions. In January 1961, SGM Tabata became a “triple volunteer” when he applied for duty with the U.S. Army Special Forces. After his Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, SGM Tabata volunteered for a clandestine mobile training team, named “White Star.” Led by then-Lieutenant Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons, the team arrived in the Kingdom of Laos in October 1961 and began training a Royal Lao Army battalion.

In August 1964, SGM Tabata received orders to the Republic of South Vietnam. There, he joined the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and trained the Montagnards. In January 1965, reassigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Okinawa, SGM Tabata served as a team sergeant on a HALO team. A few months later, SGM Tabata and his detachment went to Korea to prepare South Korea’s elite White Horse Division for combat prior to its departure for South Vietnam the following year. SGM Tabata returned to South Vietnam in November 1965, his third combat tour, for assignment to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, or MACV-SOG. Returning to Fort Devens, Mass., in August 1970, SGM Tabata served with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and with the 12th Engineer Battalion.

Upon his promotion to sergeant major, he served as the senior enlisted advisor to the assistant division commander, 8th Infantry Division, in Mainz, Germany. His return to Special Forces came in 1978, with an assignment to the 7th Special Forces Group. (Airborne) SGM Tabata retired in December 1981 after 30 years of active-duty service. In November 1984, he returned to the Special Forces Training Group as a civilian instructor. He currently teaches Special Forces engineers the skills of their specialty. He also provides demolitions instruction to Special Forces warrant officers and still participates in static line parachute jumps as required in the course of his duties.

Note: this was written prior to Ernie’s death in 2015

Pistol Drill: The Howard Drill

COL Robert L. Howard was a Medal of Honor winner during Vietnam.  Before his death, he was the most decorated living Medal of Honor Recipient.  You can read more about COL Howard below.

The Howard Drill is a great mixture of speed vs accuracy.  You can make this pistol drill harder with magazine changes, increasing your distance and speeding up your cadence.

Setup:

For this pistol drill, the shooter stands at the 3-yard line with the pistol holstered, facing down-range.

Drill:

At the buzzer, the shooter draws and fires 1 round to the #1 target, 2 rounds to the #2 target, 3 rounds to the #3 target, 4 rounds to the #4 target, 5 rounds to the #5 target, 6 rounds to the #6 target.   Change magazines as necessary.

For more drills, check out our shooting drills page.

Scoring:

Your score for this drill is your time.  For this drill only hits count.  You should do your best to maintain good accuracy while trying to speed up your cadence.

Colonel Robert L. Howard

COL Howard is nothing short of amazing.  COL Howard spent 36 years in the Army, serving in MACVSOG, Special Forces and Special Operations Command Korea.

COL Howard earned the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, eight Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and four Bronze Starts.  He spent 54 months in combat overall.

 

FIRST LIEUTENANT

ROBERT L. HOWARD
UNITED STATES ARMY

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then SFC .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in an enemy-controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam.

The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer’s equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant’s belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition.

1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy.

For 3 12 hours 1st Lt. Howard’s small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard’s gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

General Orders: Department of the Army, General Orders No. 16 (March 24, 1971)
Action Date: December 30, 1968
Service: Army
Regiment: 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Division: 1st Special Forces
Distinguished Service Cross Citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant First Class Robert Lewis Howard (ASN: RA-14628152), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Command and Control (Central), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Sergeant First Class Howard distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 21 November 1967, as Special Forces Advisor to a joint American and Vietnamese reconnaissance patrol conducting a search mission near the Laotian border. His patrol discovered a huge rice and ammunition cache surrounded by an enemy bunker complex.
Sergeant Howard led a small team to provide security while the remainder of the unit began to destroy the stored supplies. His team encountered four North Vietnamese Army soldiers, and Sergeant Howard killed them with a fierce burst of rifle fire. He and his men were immediately pinned down by a murderous curtain of fire which erupted from a nearby enemy machine gun position. With complete disregard for his safety, Sergeant Howard crawled toward the emplacement and killed a North Vietnamese sniper who was firing at him as he maneuvered. He then charged the bunker, eliminating its occupants with rifle fire.
A second machine gun position unleashed a savage barrage. Sergeant Howard moved his troops to a covered location and directed an airstrike against the fortified bunker. While assessing the bomb damage, Sergeant Howard was fired upon by North Vietnamese soldiers in the bunker who had survived the blasts. Pinned down directly outside the strongpoint with a blazing machine gun barrel only six inches above his head, he threw a hand grenade into the aperture of the emplacement, killing the gunners and temporarily silencing the weapon.
He then dashed to his team’s location and secured a light anti-tank weapon. As the enemy machine gun resumed firing, Sergeant Howard stood up amid a withering hail of bullets, fired his weapon, and completely demolished the position. His fearless and determined actions in close combat enabled the remainder of the patrol to destroy the enemy cache. Sergeant First Class Howard’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2018 (May 2, 1968)

Rifle Drill: The Benavidez

MSG Roy Benavidez was a member of Special Forces and MACVSOG during Vietnam.  He is a medal of honor recipient.  You can read more about his heroic actions below.

The Benavidez Drill tests your rifle marksmanship in a CQB setting.  This is a complex rifle drill that will force you to shoot accurately and quickly.   You will notice the drill varies between shooting accurately to shooting quickly to shooting accurately again.

This drill is best performed on the Essentials Target

Setup:

The shooter starts facing UP-RANGE with a magazine inserted in the weapon.  The weapon should have one round chambered with five rounds in the magazine.  The shooter should then have a second full magazine on hand.  The recommended distance for this drill is 7 yards.   The shooter can start either at 10 gun or the low ready.

Drill:

At the buzzer, the shooter turns and fires 1 round to the #1 target, 2 rounds to the #7 target, 3 rounds to the #13 target, conducts a reload, 4 rounds to the #12 target.

For more drills, check out our shooting drills page.

Scoring:

Count each miss as 2 seconds.

 

MSG Roy Benavidez

Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. BENAVIDEZ United States Army, distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam.

On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about the confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire.

Sergeant BENAVIDEZ was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters, of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant BENAVIDEZ voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team.

Prior to reaching the team’s position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team’s position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy’s fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader.

When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy’s fire and so permit another extraction attempt.

He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from behind by an enemy soldier. In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, he sustained additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary.[5][note 1] He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded.

Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant BENAVIDEZ’ gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.[6]

Pistol Drill: The Beikirch

Sgt. Gary B. Beikirch of 1st Special Forces Group (A) is a Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient.   You can read more about his heroic actions below.

The Beikirch is a difficult pistol drill that helps train your transition capabilities.  You can make this drill more difficult by adding reloads or distance.  This drill is best performed on the Essentials Target

Setup:

The shooter starts at the 5-yard line, weapon holstered (or drawn if preferred)

Drill:

At the buzzer, the shooter draws and fires 1 round to the #13 target, 1 round to #8, 1 round to #13, 1 round to #9, 1 round to #13, 1 round to #11, 1 round to #13, 1 round to #10.  In short, the shooter will shoot each of the circles in the corners.  The shooter will shoot one circle and return to the #13 to fire one round before moving to the next circle.

For more drills, check out our shooting drills page.

Scoring:

The best way to score this is to count any miss as 1 second.  If you mess up the order of shooting your score does not count.

To purchase the Essentials Target go to https://www.refactortactical.com/collections/shooting/products/essentials-target

 

Sgt. Gary B. Beikirch

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Beikirch, medical aidman, Detachment B-24, Company B, distinguished himself during the defense of Camp Dak Seang. The allied defenders suffered a number of casualties as a result of an intense, devastating attack launched by the enemy from well-concealed positions surrounding the camp. Sgt. Beikirch, with complete disregard for his personal safety, moved unhesitatingly through the withering enemy fire to his fallen comrades, applied first aid to their wounds and assisted them to the medical aid station.

When informed that a seriously injured American officer was lying in an exposed position, Sgt. Beikirch ran immediately through the hail of fire. Although he was wounded seriously by fragments from an exploding enemy mortar shell, Sgt. Beikirch carried the officer to a medical aid station. Ignoring his own serious injuries, Sgt. Beikirch left the relative safety of the medical bunker to search for and evacuate other men who had been injured. He was again wounded as he dragged a critically injured Vietnamese soldier to the medical bunker while simultaneously applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to sustain his life.

Sgt. Beikirch again refused treatment and continued his search for other casualties until he collapsed. Only then did he permit himself to be treated. Sgt. Beikirch’s complete devotion to the welfare of his comrades, at the risk of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.[1]

What’s the Deal With the Combat Fitness Deck?

The Combat Fitness Deck™ was designed to give forward deployed military service members the ability to easily maintain their fitness levels regardless of location or gym availability.  The Combat Fitness Deck™ includes 52 different high-intensity workouts that can be performed with minimal equipment. As you progress through the deck, the workouts become increasingly difficult as the value of the card increases. The idea to create this product developed after constantly being in locations with no gym equipment due to deployments or training ops. We wanted to create a product that is easy to use and transport, while still including a diverse array of workouts that can be used to maintain an individuals fitness levels when no gym is present.  Draw randomly from the deck, run through the deck numerically, combine multiple cards, or any other method that the user desires.

The Combat Fitness Deck™ comes in a rugged and durable tin casing that provides substantial protection for the cards while still maintaining a low profile so that it doesn’t take up needed space in your ruck. The deck also includes multiple team workouts that are designed for groups of 2-4. The reps can be increased for the team workouts if the group is larger than the recommended amount.

We recommend recording your times for each workout and striving to beat your original time on subsequent attempts. If you believe that you have an exceptional score or time, post it to the RE Factor Tactical Team Room and see how your score compares to others who have completed the same card. If you are not a member of the RE Factor Tactical Team Room on Facebook, please send us a request and we will add you so you can be connected to other Combat Fitness Deck ™ users!

Rifle Drill: The FML Run-Down

The FML Run-Down came from some of the guys constantly saying “f*&^ my life” after trying this rifle drill over and over.  The rifle drill is a great combination of precision, dynamic movement, reloads, fast target acquisition and rapid fire techniques.

Setup

Set up one of any of our Human Resources Target.  The shooter will begin at the 25-yard line, standing.  We recommend running this one in a kit.

Drill

At the sound of the buzzer, the shooter drops to the prone and fires 2 rounds to the “T” box.  The shooter conducts a reload and runs to the 15-yard line and shoots 3 rounds to the center circle.  The shooter then reloads and runs to the 7-yard line and fires 4 rounds to the inverted triangle at the bottom of the target.  The shooter can reload while on the run if allowed.

For more drills, check out our shooting drills page.

Scoring

When we ran this rifle drill we made each miss count as two seconds.  This helps keep guys from blowing off the “T” box shot.

Make it harder

A quick and fast way to make this drill harder is to have the shooter start at the 100-yard line or with 20 burpees.  It makes the “T box” shot a real bearcat.

How Facebook is Destroying Small Business

Over the past few months and years, we have seen first hand how Facebook, the necessity of Social Media, has slowly crushed small business in return for profits to shareholders and the owner Mark Zuckerburg.

In 2011, when we first opened our doors, Facebook and Instagram were a godsend.  It allowed us to become popular, giving us much needed exposure, in an overly saturated tactical gear market.  I can say, without a doubt, that without Facebook and Instagram my company wouldn’t be here today.  However, today Facebook remains one of the worst things to happen to small businesses in the 21st century.

When we first got onto Facebook, our posts would be shown to a very larger percentage of our followers, usually 20-30%.  That means of the people who liked our page, 20-30% off them would see our posts! That was huge.  If we put up a product, it sold.  We received thousands of likes and comments on every post and we grew thousands of new followers every week.  This was all done without paying a dime to Facebook.  Then one day Facebook became a monetized platform.  Almost immediately our exposure and customer interaction dramatically dropped.  So I called Facebook.  Back then when you called Facebook you could get a real-life person on the phone, who cared, who wanted to see you succeed…  Why?  Because if you succeeded, Facebook succeeded.  When I talked to the kind lady I asked her how I could get more exposure and customer interaction.  The lady responded by telling me that Facebook would show my content to a certain percentage of my followers, so it would be in my best interest to pay Facebook to get new followers to my page.  So I did.  And it worked!  I was soon spending $200-300/day on Facebook to get new followers.  Our following would grow as much as 1500 new followers in one day!  We were back in business.  Soon our posts were getting great interaction and sales came pouring in.

Then one day, Facebook needed more.  Again, our interaction plummeted.  The number of followers we would get in one day went from 1500 to 10.  Our posts now get shown to less than .01% of our followers.  So back to Facebook, I went asking how I could navigate this new algorithm change.  This time I didn’t get a dedicated person, instead, I was sent links on how to create ads for Facebook and I was told that if I wanted to get a personal account manager I would have to pay $10,000/month.  That’s right, in order for me to get someone who would talk to me on the phone I had to pay Facebook $120,000/year.  Now to date, we have spent over $200,000 on Facebook for various marketing (this includes marketing on Instagram)…  Let’s think about that for a second.  If I spent $200,000 on any other marketing firm, imagine the support I would get.  I would get someone on 24/7 standby that I could call for anything I might need.  But with Facebook, I am a number, a ticket number, an annoyance… I digress.

After the new algorithm change, we had to learn Facebook’s complex advertising system.  If properly navigated I had the chance to make a ton of money, if not I would lose out…  Lose out we did.   Again I spent thousands as I tried to learn how to properly manage and navigate Facebook’s new ever-changing system, putting up one failed ad after another.  Once I figure out the algorithm it would quickly change.  When we did hit an ad with a good conversion rate (meaning the amount of money it would take to get someone to come to our store and buy something) we would pump money into it.  Facebook would see our success and want more of it, they would slowly squeeze us until the cost per conversion became so high that it was no longer profitable.  Our company’s customer sales began to fall, our Instagram and Facebook account no longer grew (we now get 5-10 new followers a day, if we are lucky) and there was nothing we could do about it.

Now I will admit that I made a mistake.  I saw the success of Facebook and Instagram and I put all of our eggs in those two baskets.  Meanwhile, I neglected other social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat and whatever other new cool hip platform is out there.  Why?  Because they didn’t have the success that Facebook showed.  I couldn’t believe that my 30,000 followers on Tumblr could product better traffic that my 200,000 Instagram followers or 347,000 Facebook followers.  So I pressed on with Facebook and Instagram, trying to take better photos (as one of their articles suggested) or spend thousands on “viral” videos (that one of their articles suggested we make), but nothing worked, the damage was done.

Luckily our company has an ace in the hole, our government sales.  Because our industry sells to the US government we are able to maintain growth.  However, most small businesses don’t have the same distribution channels and rely entirely on social media to make a footprint in the business world.  The problem is that Facebook and Instagram are so suppressive, greedy and complex that anyone who can’t navigate their ads matrix risks losing their entire business.  Facebook and Instagram have become such a monopoly that if you don’t have a successful Instagram/Facebook account you will find yourself way behind the sales curve and becoming a successful business is next to impossible.

The reality is that Facebook created necessity then became a publicly traded IPO.  With public IPOs comes investors, with investors, comes pressure for a big profit and with big profit comes bad business practices.  It began as a social media platform and has since transformed into one of the largest money making ventures in history.

In addition to Facebook, Instagram has taken the same path of entrepreneurial oppression.  Posts that used to get 4,000-5,000 likes now get 500-600.  We have been at 200,000 followers now for almost three months.  For every new follower we gain, we somehow lose one.  This is despite being tagged daily by huge accounts and following all of the pro’s “posting rules.” But Facebook and Instagram have once again informed us that we can build our social media following… As long as we pay!  At the recent rate, one new customer costs about $1.  So if I want to boost my profile up to 210,000 followers I have to pay $10,000. Once I get those new followers I won’t be able to have them see my content unless… you guessed it, I pay!  But even if I do pay my ad is likely to be declined because our company has something to do with guns and tactical gear.  Even though we don’t sell guns, we still get oppressed and denied marketing because there might be a picture of a gun in our photo.  Meanwhile, Facebook can allow Russia to influence public elections through their advertising but somehow what I am doing is too severe for society.

I recently reached out to Facebook with the subject line “you’re losing a customer.”  In the email, I addressed a number of concerns that I list above.  In addition, I discussed getting “verified” on Instagram.  A verified profile is when you get a blue checkmark next to your name that shows you are an authentic company.  This important when you have profiles they may try to imitate you, which we do.   Even though I have 200,000 followers Instagram won’t verify my profile, nor will they even allow me to ask to get it verified.  Meanwhile, if some attractive woman with 10,000 followers posts revealing photos she will get a verified account as well as tens of thousands of new followers.  In addition, Instagram will push her photo to get thousands of likes and exposure.  Don’t believe me?  Go to your Instagram account and see who’s getting put into your search function, it’s most likely not a company that has paid a lot of money to Instagram, they wouldn’t dare reward them, but instead it’s probably some Instagram superstar or photography account that gets thousands of followers by stealing other people’s photos, posting them and tell them congratulations for being selected.

After reaching out to Facebook, with a full spectrum of concerns, I received the following response:

“Hi XXXXXX,

>>>   Thank you for contacting Facebook Ad Support.  My name is Andrew and I
>>> would be happy to help you.  I do understand XXXXX you were trying to get
>>> verified on Instagram and you were unable to get verified.
>>>
>>> Here is a link that I will provide you on how to get verified on
>>> Instagram, here it is as follows: https://stockroom.shopify.com/
>>> blogs/posts/how-we-got-verified-on-Instagram-with-less-than-400-followers
>>>
>>> you can go through this link here.  Any questions you can let us know.
>>> Okay XXXX you take care and have a good day!”

Again, a company that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars writes and says they are unhappy and this is the response they get.  So of all the concerns I address, my response was a link that basically tells me I can’t get a verified account.  They didn’t address all of the other concerns about complex ad systems, no customer support, post and account suppression or anything else.  Instead, I got a link.  This very brevity is what causes a small business to struggle to be able to navigate FB’s and Instagram’s complex system.

In short, I say shame on Facebook and shame on Instagram.  You willfully take the money of thousands of small business owners, promising the world, then return with crushed marketing budgets and a system that can’t be navigated even by the savviest of marketing managers.  Small businesses are the backbone of America.  Your business practices are destroying those who put their trust into you and your empty promises.  If you want a successful business you have to maintain a strong social media presence, but if you want to have a strong social media presence you have to spend thousands of dollars.  Anyone who has ever started a small business knows that liquid capital is precious and if incorrectly spent, on say a complex marketing platform, can literally crush your entire business.  There are now thousands of businesses with amazing ideas that could be huge additions to society, providing much-needed product and jobs, that will never see the light of day because they can’t get someone from Facebook to help them be successful.

So Facebook, this is for you.  Take the time to support the very men and women who made your company successful, because without small businesses you and your IPO will crumble.

 

For more reading be sure to check out the Chive’s recent post http://thechive.com/2017/10/25/how-facebook-became-the-grinch-who-stole-christmas-10-photos/